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All posts created by Bob

Bob
Tuoweit
I have noticed that some escalations seem to be a lot easier to reduce in power than others. Ripping Chains, for example, I was able to reduce from 20,000 points to 0, mostly by myself, in about 6 hours. Other groups, like Bonedancers or Skullsmashers (I think that's the name - haven't seen them in a while) are annoyingly slow to reduce. (Skullsmashers, in particular, seem to have fewer/more spread-out spawns than most other escalations I've seen, so you lose a lot more time looking for & running between spawns.)

Some escalations take longer to deal with than others, and some lose more points through events than through just generally killing mobs (so if you're soloing, you're less likely to be completing events, and thus strength might drop more slowly). However, the biggest thing affecting strength is how many neighboring hexes are sending in reinforcements and how strong those hexes are. If you're surrounded by 100% strength hexes, you probably can't kill things fast enough while soloing to make up for the reinforcement rate.
Bob
Giorgio
Bob,

I have seen lots of references that the risk/rewards of fighting T1 escalation is seen by many players as a waste of time, so they don't bother clearing them. Have you looked into the math/reasons for this and confirmed if this is valid concern or just a difference of opinion between players and Devs?

Oddly enough, this was somewhat intentional. The goal was for the rewards of T1 escalations to be good incentives for T1-capable players, but not enough for T2-capable players, who would instead find more appropriate incentives to tackle T2 escalations. Basically, the incentives are meant to push players to tackle the toughest escalations they can handle, while leaving the other escalations to more appropriate players.

However, there does need to be some additional incentive for T2-capable players to occasionally clean up T1 escalations that just aren't getting cleared, despite the lower loot values. Between the need to get Victory Markers and the need to clear infected hexes before building holdings and such, I'm hoping the risk/reward balance will shift enough that T2-capable players will still prefer T2 escalations, but will find value in tackling T1 escalations when necessary.
Bob
We do have some long-term plans to spread the rewards around in a better way, but for the moment we're trying to provide what incentives we can without requiring additional code.

On the positive side, the new Victory Markers are only really useful at the company level, since only companies can build holdings and outposts, so that part of the reward should be seen as the reward for the company/settlement that took the escalation down. Of course, that does mean that as the escalation gets close to completion it becomes increasingly important to keep out potential poachers.
Bob
Giorgio
What problems did you encounter in your "inverse pyramid" escalation design draft?

The biggest problems have to do with the delicate mathematical dance where source hexes grow in strength naturally, hexes pass strength between each other in attempts to expand and/or reinforce each other, and hexes are considered infected once they pass a certain threshold. All the individual calculations are fairly straightforward, but they work together in interesting ways. When strength gets interpreted in a new way, as proposed, oddities creep in, such as "weaker" escalations expanding and reinforcing more effectively than "stronger" escalations. In particular, to get the infected hexes to start out with the weaker monsters, their infection threshold would have to be set high enough to place them in the top/weak phase. That in turn would mean setting the infection rate high enough to get them to reach that threshold in a reasonable time period. However, because infection rates are also used as reinforcement rates, untargeted hexes would be extremely good at reinforcing other hexes, likely exacerbating the problems we're already seeing with established escalations being extremely difficult to displace.

There are some additional problems with the fail bosses. Those appear when the strength gets near the top. A sufficient buffer is required between the starting strength and the fail boss strength, which is currently provided by having the starting strength relatively low. Getting the natural strength growth and the reinforcement rates from neighboring hexes to work well with that buffer gets tricky, particularly if neighboring hexes don't count as infected until they hit a fairly high threshold and also have fairly high infection/reinforcement rates in order to hit that threshold reasonably quickly.

To a certain degree, there's just a lot of trial and error that goes into solving these issues. Plug in some numbers see what they break, try new numbers, rinse and repeat.
Bob
Yrme
- The source hex itself can use a different, and somewhat inverted, system.

That's one of my core limitations right now. I can make source hexes fire off different events than infected hexes, plus source hexes are the only ones to have a natural growth rate and boss events, but other than that they're treated identically for the most part. All of those systems were set up on the assumption that higher strength meant faster expansion and tougher monsters. I've been able to twist that logic a little for the mini-escalations, but twisting it for multi-phase escalations is trickier.
Bob
Thod-Theodum
You don't see any of these problems yet anywhere close to Golgotha and EBA - as they have taken care of escalations - or they were helped by GW with the early Mordant Spire escalation. But there are old T1's lurking in areas of dead settlements and they are the true problem.

Just to be clear, Golgotha didn't receive any help from us with the Mordant Spire aside from fixing bugs and correcting the consequences of those bugs. At the time, Mordant Spire was supposed to be limited to 3 hexes, but a bug was allowing them to spread further than that. The code bug was fixed, and I manually trimmed them back to the 3 hexes they were allowed. I did the same for Undying Ogg elsewhere on the map, and possibly for Ustalav Invasion, can't remember for sure.

Established escalations, of which Bonedancers is clearly the most successful, were intended to be hard to displace regardless of tier. That's the incentive for not letting them get out of hand. They have, admittedly, proved tougher to displace than I'd predicted, and there have been various setting changes to correct that for future growth and expansion, but they did follow the rules at the time to get where they are. As such, I leave it to the players to trim them back, and I'm hoping that the additional incentives connected to Victory Markers and holdings will help with that.
Bob
PFU Hoffman
Bob

Any chance you can give us some guidance on the number of victory markers per boss level? Just to get an estimate that is.

I don't have my spreadsheets in front of me, but I believe it's one per party member for the T1 escalations rising to 2 per party member for the T2 escalations. I think there might be a bug with the drops that will cause all the upper-T1/lower-T2 drops to always be just one per party member, though they're meant to give each party member either one or two at random.

I'm beginning to suspect I'll need to raise that to more like 3-4 Victory Markers per party member for the T2 escalations, at least until some of the other incentives kick in for defeating them, but we'll see how things go in EE7. If it's quickly apparent that they need to go up, I can easily get them changed for EE8.
Bob
Thod-Theodum
I wasn't joking when I said on a different forum that you could use escalations as a mode of warfare.

That's actually one of our design goals. We always intended for players to use various methods to push escalations toward their enemies, but there will eventually be more trade-offs to doing so and it will be more important to leverage the most appropriate escalations at the most appropriate times. Currently, it's a lot safer to use nearby escalations as buffers and such, but that will definitely change as the escalations hook into more and more systems, such as the ability to place holdings.
Bob
I've considered doing something like this before, but there are some assumptions built into the Escalation system that would make it difficult. In particular, the way Escalations spread to and reinforce neighboring hexes is intricately tied to the strength numbers and weird things can happen when reversing things.

You do provide some additional reasons that make this strategy tempting, so I'll take another look and see what I can figure out. That said, I've also never fully considered the ramifications of such a change, since I always stopped at the "still can't figure out a way to make it happen" stage of the design work before.
Bob
For EE7, the new Duergar Slavers Escalation will be adding to the pool of available T2 Escalations, so that will be a slight improvement. For EE8, I'll look at adjusting the overall numbers again. The overall population probably has advanced enough to justify a higher percentage of T2's, though I still worry that some portions of the map are having enough trouble with just the T1's. Perhaps the Victory Markers will incentivize larger companies to travel around clearing out unchallenged Escalations, alleviating my concerns.